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Instagram started in October 2010 as a social network where you could only share photos. One of the main reasons it got so popular was because you could alter your photos with several interesting filters. Once Facebook bought the company, it soon grew to be one of the biggest platforms in the world, and now has more than 200 million users! And besides photos, you’re now also able to upload short videos (maximum of 15 seconds) to your account.

There are loads of big brands on Instagram, and most active brands come from the car, food, clothing and retail industry. But why are they on Instagram? Even though there is a rapidly growing number of users on this platform, this is not the best reason you should start promoting your company on Instagram.

It’s not an easy platform to start with. One of the things you need to know before you start using it, is that you are unable to directly link and refer to external sites in your message. The only way to do this is by including the link in your bio. For this reason it makes it more difficult to generate direct traffic from Instagram to your site. The ROI is therefore much more difficult to measure than platforms such as Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest. Despite this, there are many advantages Instagram has for your company. Some of the benefits are:

  • You can create brand awareness, brand preference and you can extend your reach to potential clients easily. For this reason it’s not strange to know that most of the companies use Instagram as a branding tool.
  • You can give followers an insight in your company. You can give them a look into what your company is all about, how it is to work there, how you prepare your products and much more. Behind the scenes shots of a company is a great way to bond with people – and don’t forget to use the hashtag #behindthescenes to draw even more attention to what you’re doing!
  • According to a study done by Olapic there is a 5% increase in overall conversion when a company uses Instagram photo galleries on product pages!

And if you’re still not convinced that Instagram can be used in your advantage, just take a look at a couple of brands that have already used Instagram in a successful manner:

  • Lonely Planet – with more then 277,000 followers Lonely Planet gives you a great insight in travel around the world. On this account they share photos by their staff and authors who are on the road. Whether it’s millions of lanterns floating gracefully into the night sky at the Yi Peng Lantern Festival in Thailand, or a picture of spring in Amsterdam. You will see them on this account. At the same time they encourage their readers to post their own travel photos by using the hashtag #lonelyplanet – which has been used for more then 635,000 times already!
  • Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts – This luxurious hotel chain has over 97,000 followers on Instagram. Posting exclusive photos of their resorts around the world, and having loads of guests hashtagging their Four Seasons experience which are shared on their profile as well.
  • Virgin America – following Virgin America on Instagram is more then just airplanes alone. Inspiring quotes by Richard Branson, behind the scenes looks of staff training, perfect photos of their destinations, and loads of photos shared from travellers.
  • Ben & Jerry’s – one of the first big brands to join Instagram actively, they now have almost 500,000 followers! They do all their Instagram marketing in-house and sees their account as a way to tell their brand story in a visual way. They are on top of their game with relevant hashtags and don’t forget about their fans, of which they share photos regularly.

For the longest time Instagram did not offer any type of advertising on their social media platform, but slowly they are making changes in this. The company’s aim is to make any advertisement feel as natural to Instagram. They want the ads to be enjoyable and creative in much the same way as you see engaging high-quality ads when you flip through your favourite magazine. At this moment they are only working with brands such as Adidas, Burberry, Levi’s and General Electric, but soon everyone will be able to advertise on Instagram.

Instagram is making a huge push in the social media world, and its fast becoming the most popular social network – after Facebook. One platform not to be missed in your social media marketing portfolio.

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